NDAA Amendments by Rep. Case Approved by U.S. House
Three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have been approved by the U.S. House in its passage of the bill last week. The NDAA—which includes the federal government’s annual approval of defense spending—authorizes $733 billion for Fiscal Year 2020.
The amendments, introduced by Congressman Ed Case, include:
- A military airspace and civilian aircraft review amendment;
- An intel amendment for the Indo-Pacific region;
- An ammendment calling for a classified report on foreign expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Case’s first amendment calls on the U.S. Defense Department to review civilian aircraft flights over military installations and report on any regulatory changes.
“Like many others, I have personally witnessed various aircraft, especially tour helicopters, overfly our military installations regularly,” said Case. “Most acute has been Pearl Harbor, which tour helicopters regularly cross, around fifty-plus times a day, at low altitude over or near very sensitive areas such as the SEALS and submarine bases, compromising operations and security and risking lives on the ground.”
“We welcome a study called for by Congressman Case,” said Aileen Utterdyke, president and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks. “As the state’s top visitor attraction, the USS Arizona Memorial gets its share of tour helicopter traffic. Besides safety factors, we believe the study should examine the impacts aerial tours have on the solemnity of a memorial honoring those killed on Dec. 7, 1941.”
The NDAA includes two additional amendments authored by Case:
- A report from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to Congress on the status of security cooperation and assistance with Pacific Island countries and the feasibility of expanding such cooperation and assistance to help combat crime, illegal fishing, and counter Chinese military actions in the Indo-Pacific.
- A classified report from the Defense Intelligence Agency on foreign militaries operating or expressing military interest in Pacific Island countries. The Pacific Island countries are under increasing pressures from China.
“When we look at our national defense strategy over the next generation and focus our priorities in this and future NDAAs and other measures, we cannot help but look to Hawai‘i’s corner of the world, the Indo-Pacific,” said Rep. Case. “And there we must focus increasingly on our neighbors in the Pacific, those twenty-odd Pacific island nations and parts of our country and others which together with their ocean areas include, and are larger than, Russia and China combined. These islands are our natural partners yet are under increasing pressure from a variety of sources including China. My amendments add to our increased focus in this critical region.”
The bill also contains various provisions specifically authorizing Hawai’i projects already funded under the House Appropriations Committee including:
- $60 million for the Phase 5 of the Fort Shafter Command and Control Facility.
- $134 million for a new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters for Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i in Kāne‘ohe Bay.
- $54 million for Phase 1 of the West Loch Magazine Consolidation Project in Pearl Harbor.
- $68 million for a new Special Operations Force Undersea Operational Training Facility in Pearl Harbor.
- $275 million to support the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai‘i (HDR-H), a system designed to identify and track long-range ballistic missile threats.
- $1.7 million to support the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), a public-private partnership managed by the University of Hawai‘i under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense (DOD).
Overall, the NDAA authorizes funding for manpower and material provisisions needed to maintain U.S defenses at home and overseas. These include:
- Giving servicemembers a 3.1% pay increase;
- Improving military housing conditions and cleaning up contaminated drinking water at military bases;
- Prohibiting funding in the bill from being used for the construction of a wall, barrier or fence along the southern U.S. border unless separately authorized by Congress;
- Prohibiting DOD funding from being used to house unaccompanied children forcibly separated from their parent or legal guardian by U.S. Customs and Border Protection within 100 miles of the border;
- Requiring DOD briefings to Congress on Russian election interference and directing DOD to issue a strategy on countering Russian election interference in the 2020 elections;
- Requiring DOD to take a steps to both address climate change and fund proactive solutions;
- Accelerating the closure of Guantanamo Bay;
- Prohibiting funding for the deployment of new nuclear warheads pending further demonstration of necessity.